Thursday, May 5, 2011

Auto-Interview; Present Tense

      "Well," the woman says once she's reached the curb, and then takes a moment to gather her hair, much of which has slipped inside her collar, and lay it gently behind her shoulders. Loreen sees that while she is not exactly beautiful, either, she is a good deal prettier than Loreen herself, with a long nose and full, wide lips. Something about her eyes looks familiar—the shape of the eyes and also the way she holds them a little wider than most people do. "I wasn't sure you'd hear me over the traffic and the wind," she says, pronouncing "wind" with an extra little "h" sound that Loreen associates with old movies. It is windy, but Loreen hadn't noticed until this woman made the pronouncement. It feels as if the woman has made it so.

     "Oh. Oh gosh,” the woman says in a way that plucks Loreen’s gaze away from her eyes and the soft atmosphere of bangs above them and makes her realize the words spoken come out of the her mouth, just like everyone else’s. And then in a tone that sounds alarmingly like pity, "you don't remember me." Not pity, she decides, watching the woman bite the inside of her cheek and stare at a spot above Loreen’s head. She seems hurt. Loreen can't stand the thought of hurting this woman who'd jogged across the street in such a familiar, trusting way. This woman who manages to appear both vulnerable and sophisticated.

     In a gesture uncharacteristic to her, Loreen places a hand lightly on the woman's forearm. "Of course I remember you. How are you? Where were you headed just now?" Every fragment of the woman returns to the moment, every feature slides smartly back into place, and a tremor of happiness traces through Loreen.

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